How Many Bones Does A Dog Have

Animals’ shapes, sizes, stability, and classification are determined by the design and construction of their bones, which are the toughest element of their bodies. The bones make up a dog’s complex skeletal system which is extremely important to the health and nourishment of a dog.

Like human bones, the skeletal structure of dogs enables movement, stability, and other physical activities, as well as guarding the body’s critical organs. However, many dog owners wonder whether dogs and humans have the same number of bones. So, how many bones does a dog have?

The Number of Bones In A Dog

Dogs have between 319 – 321 bones in their bodies, and each one is crucial to the mobility and wellness of your furry buddy. The tail mostly determines how many bones are in a dog’s body. Therefore, a few extra bones will be present in dogs with long tails compared to those with short tails.

The maturation of a dog’s skeleton might take 3 to 18 months, depending on its size. For instance, the skeleton of a toy breed will develop within a few months, whereas that of a larger breed may take 15 to 18 months to mature.

Understanding The Dog’s Skeletal System

The canine skeleton resembles the human skeleton in many ways. However, their skeletal systems also differ in a few ways, which we outline below;

  • Bone shapes
  • Section of the dog skeletal system

Bone Shapes

 a) Long Bones

These are bones that are wider at the top than at the bottom. The femur (upper leg bone), tibia (lower leg bone), and fibula are examples of long bones.

As your dog ages, the growth plates in their long bones allow their bones to expand. They also aid in transferring forces throughout the body and supporting weight.

b) Splanchnic Bones

These bones support the gastrointestinal tract and its content.

In addition, the stomach, liver, spleen, and other important organs are also protected by them.

 c) Flat Bones

These are broad but thin bones. Examples include the sternum, ribs, and scapulae (shoulder blades) (breastbone).

Like long bones, flat bones have growth plates that enable your dog’s bones to develop. Additionally, they safeguard important organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, etc.

 d) Short Bones

Compared to long bones, short bones are smaller and shorter. They support joint stabilization and can be found in places like the wrists and ankles.

The carpals (wrist bones) and tarsals are two examples of short bones (ankle bones).

e) Sesamoid Bones

Sesamoid bones are an irregular variety of bones located in places like the wrists and ankles. Because of their resemblance in shape to sesame seeds, they acquired their name.

The sesamoid bones shield the tendons and ligaments that travel through the joints, which also aid in joint stabilization.

f) Pneumatic Bones

Like the bones of birds, pneumatic bones are hollow and filled with air sacs. They consist of the ethmoid plate (between the orbits or eye sockets), paranasal sinuses (between the eyes), and nasal cavities (within the nose).

Their work is to protect the brain, eyes, etc., 

g) Irregular Bones

Bones that don’t have simple shapes are said to be irregular. They include the sacrum (the base of the spine), and the vertebrae (the backbone), among others.

Vital organs, including the spinal cord, brain, heart, and lungs, are shielded by irregular bones.

Sections Of The Dog Skeletal System

1. Head and Neck

 Three significant bones support a Fido’s head;

  • Parietal
  • Occipital
  • Frontal

The frontal lobe makes up the front of the head, whereas the parietal bone forms the base of the skull. 

Other minor bones in your dog include those that build up its ears and those that make up his jaw or mandible.

2. Foreleg and Shoulder

The six bones that make up the upper limb and shoulder (scapula) on the foreleg are:

  • Humerus
  • Radius
  • Ulna
  • Carpals
  • Metacarpals
  • Phalanges

The dog’s shoulder bones are divided into three parts:

  • Scapula (shoulder blade)
  • Coronaid bone
  • Acromion

One of the largest bones in a dog’s body, the humerus, is located inside the scapula and serves as a connection point between it and the radius and ulna, which together make up the forearm.

Eight bones make up the carpals (wrist), including five metacarpals that branch into the dog’s fingers and toes. The trapezium, ulna, and two pisiform bones, along with your dog’s phalanges (toes), make up the remaining four bones that make up the paw.

3. Chest

The canine’s chest is below the forelimb (shoulder). Three major bones make up the sternum (breastbone):

  • Manubrium
  • Body
  • Xiphoid process
  • Dog chest bones

Cartilage joins your dog’s ribs, which make up their chest wall. There are a total of 13 pairs of ribs.

  • 9 pairs are sternal  
  • 4 pairs are Asternal 
  • Floating Ribs – Last Pair (last astern pair)

4. Vertebrae

The dog’s spine and tail are made up of vertebrae. The first 7 neck (cervical) vertebrae anchor the skull, and then 13 thoracic vertebrae connect to your dog’s ribs via cartilage. The bottom of their abdomen is covered in 7 lumbar bones.

There are between 18 and 20 vertebrae in the dog’s tail, including the caudal vertebra (tailbone). Five coccygeal (tailless) bones are connected to the first three by cartilage, forming a united structure known as the sacrum.

5. Hind Leg

There are seven parts to a dog’s hind leg:

  • Pelvis-Between your dog’s hind legs is a big bone called the pelvis. Ilium, ischium, and pubis surround it and hold the sacrum in place as protection.
  • Femur– Like in people, your dog’s acetabulum joins the femur (thigh bone) to the hip.
  • Patella– A little bone called the patella, or kneecap, is in front of your dog’s other hind leg.
  • Tibia-The dog’s shin bones, the tibia, and fibula attach to their hock through their tarsals (ankle).
  • Tarsals-Your dog’s hind paw has seven bones, called tarsals. The calcaneum, talus, navicular, cuboid, cuneiforms 1-3, and the fifth tarsal (the os calcis), which is what makes up your dog’s hock, are all part of them.

A dog’s hind paw has 14 metatarsals, joining their phalanges (toes).

What Are The Common Bone Disorders of Dogs?

  • Panosteitis
  • Osteochondrosis
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans


There is much more to learn about dog bones, but I hope this article has given you a better understanding of dog anatomy. Since bones play a great role in our furry friends, always feed your dog a balanced diet to keep them healthy.

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